During the pandemic shut down we all are getting a taste of what Main Street can look like when the local small businesses shut their doors. You can almost see the tumbleweed bouncing along the sidewalk where the community once gathered in local cafés, gift shops, art galleries and shops full of dreams realized by your neighbors.

While we are required to keep away for the safety of the community, it does not mean we have to stop buying local. In fact, it is more important than ever to put money into the pockets of local small business owners than the pockets of corporate CEO’s. They need to know we support them and want to see them reopen when the time is right. Plus it can reduce your carbon footprint at the same time.

We have experienced the closing of our favorite restaurant when a big chain comes in, or the unique local bookseller, or the local clothing store. Going to a big box store to find a gift is not the same experience as walking into that gift shop that has been there for 40 years and owned by a person who knows you by name. They can almost pick the gift for you because they also know the person who is on the receiving end.

Practicing social distancing does not mean we have to go through the drive through of a fast food chain restaurant, or always order from large online retailers. With a little extra thought, you can have a much better experience buying local.

Here are some ideas for supporting local businesses and making life a little sweeter for your community.

  1. Look at your calendar and identify birthdays coming up over the next 3 – 4 months. Make your purchases now from local shops. You will have plenty of time to get them wrapped and mailed if necessary.  Don’t forget the handmade card from your local art center.
  2. While we can’t meet in large groups right now, things will open later with a new set of rules. How about getting ready with memberships to local playhouses, museums, and music venues? Supporting the arts is more important than ever.
  3. Giving an experience instead of stuff also includes handcrafted items that will be cherished forever, and books that create experiences of the mind.
  4. Missing your date nights? How about having some flowers delivered along with some local wine and dinner from your favorite local restaurant. Candles are optional.
  5. Create a care package of bakery goods for a couple of friends from your local bakery and deliver to their door with an invitation to jump on a video chat call.
  6. Support your local bookseller, if you are lucky enough to have one left, by starting a book club. Order the books through the seller and deliver to your club members’ doors.
  7. Check with your local children’s toy store and see if they would put together a themed kit each month, or week, that you can pick up. It might have a new book, puzzle, and small toy that complements them. This will keep your small child occupied for a while and have something to look forward to.